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Appointments

Theresa Semmens Named Chief Information Security Officer and Assistant VP

UM News

Theresa Semmens

Theresa Semmens

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 17, 2017)—Bringing a wealth of strategic cybersecurity expertise, Theresa Semmens joins the University of Miami as its chief information security officer (CISO) and assistant vice president, effective June 19.

As a member of University of Miami Information Technology’s (UMIT’s) Executive Cabinet, Semmens will work closely with senior administration, academic leaders, health system leaders, and the University community to optimize UM’s information technology security.

“Theresa brings strategic leadership to UMIT during our ongoing work to enhance our cybersecurity posture,” said Steve Cawley, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “We’re looking forward to her being a leader who will have a positive impact on our University and information technology as a whole.”

As an advocate for UM’s information security needs, Semmens will be responsible for the development of a comprehensive information security strategy and a security program that leverages collaborations and university-wide resources, facilitates information security governance, advises senior leadership on security direction and resource investments, and designs appropriate policies to manage information security risk.

Semmens joins UM from North Dakota State University (NDSU), where she served as its CISO. There, she was responsible for creating, coordinating, and evaluating processes to build an information security vision and strategy, which included security policies, procedures and risk management, and assessment. At NDSU, she also reviewed contracts, software and service licenses, and agreements that contained IT components of security and regulatory compliance—in particular evaluating matters related to HIPPA, FERPA, GLBA, and applicable protection of information and privacy laws.

Semmens holds two master’s degrees, one in business administration and another in management, from the University of Mary in North Dakota.

 

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Allan Gyorke Appointed Assistant Provost for Education Innovation

UM News

Allan Gyorke

Allan Gyorke

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 2, 2017)— Allan Shawn Gyorke has been named assistant provost for education innovation to expand the role of technologies and encourage innovation in teaching and learning across the University.

Since 2013, Gyorke has served as chief academic technology officer at the University, and has been responsible for exploring and supporting technologies used by faculty and students for teaching and learning. This includes computer labs, student printing, student IT support, instructional design consultations, Blackboard, the UMiami app, IT services in the School of Architecture and Medical Education, the Faculty Learning Communities, and the annual Faculty Showcase.

In his additional role, Gyorke will work closely with William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, to advance the Education Innovation initiative of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century.

Gyorke’s initial priorities include assessing the faculty’s familiarity with the range of pedagogical methods and technological resources, and devising appropriate resources and workshops to foster and promote pedagogical innovation. He already has begun that work to help develop the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) on discussion-based learning, which is part of the University’s reaccreditation report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Prior to joining the University, Gyorke studied and worked for 21 years at Penn State University, where he oversaw computer workshops, ran the IT services for the Hazleton campus, built some of the first online courses and MOOCs, worked closely with faculty on the integration of technology into traditional on-campus courses, and led course redesign efforts to include student-generated media, podcasting, blogs, online social networks, and flipped learning models.

In addition to his university experience, Gyorke is an active participant in Educause, a higher education IT organization. He is a writer in the “7 Things You Should Know About…” series of white papers, faculty member in the Learning Technology Leadership Institute (2014-2017), and a member of the Horizon Report advisory board. He is also a reviewer for the American Journal of Distance Education.

Gyorke earned his B.S. degree in industrial engineering and his M.Ed. degree in adult education, and has worked in a variety of roles that advanced classroom and curriculum innovation and explored the bridge between technology, culture, and learning science.

At UM, Gyorke plays a key leadership role in developing a program to introduce and assess the role of narrative in online teaching. The program was supported by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation. The grant has sponsored two Faculty Showcases, in which UM faculty members share their innovative course designs with other faculty and staff.

Faculty Showcase 2017 consisted of 18 faculty-led sessions as well as information and demonstration tables operated by service units. This cross-pollination of ideas has been helping to break down silos between UM schools and elevate teaching practice across the University.

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Rudy Fernandez Returns to His Roots

Recently named senior vice president for public affairs and communications and chief of staff to the president, Fernandez plans to take UM’s Division of University Communications “from good to great.”

UM News

Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 25, 2017)Rudy Fernandez cut his teeth in politics and communications some 18 years ago while serving as the spokesperson and press secretary for iconic U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. It was at a time when two of the biggest stories in recent South Florida history—the Elián González case and the U.S. presidential election recount—dominated the headlines, putting him in a position to shape national headlines.

“The stakes were high,” recalls Fernandez, who was only a couple of years removed from his days as a Harvard undergraduate. “I was speaking for a congresswoman who was up for reelection every two years and managing her communications strategy. So it was fast-paced and sometimes frantic, but I learned a lot.”

With his mettle and savviness sharpened under Ros-Lehtinen, Fernandez would go on to serve as a special assistant to the president in the George W. Bush administration, eventually landing at the University of Miami in 2007 as vice president for government and community relations—a role in which he helped to secure more than $400 million in public funding for the University and led advocacy efforts that resulted in the passage of several landmark pieces of state legislation.

Now, the son of Cuban-born parents is taking his successful work managing external relations in government and expanding it to include other constituents important to UM. With his promotion last week as senior vice president for public affairs and communications, Fernandez has taken aim at elevating UM’s Division of University Communications “from good to great.”

“Over the next 24 months, I want to see our division become, in a way we can verify and quantify, the strongest communications team in the Southeastern United States,” says Fernandez, who will be working closely with Vice President for University Communications Jackie Menendez and will continue in his role as chief of staff to UM President Julio Frenk.

To take the division to the next level, digital content, multimedia storytelling, and learning through analytics will be an increased focus. “We will enhance our ability to tell the great human stories we see every day on our campus, in our hospitals and clinics, and in communities around the world where UM’s teaching and research is making an impact. Whether it’s talented faculty making groundbreaking discoveries or a student who excels in the classroom, in the community, or on the playing field, we will harness new media to share more and better stories of ‘Canes in the world,” says Fernandez, who holds an M.B.A. from UM’s School of Business Administration.

Saying the division needs to be one that is “results oriented,” Fernandez hopes to make greater use of social media and other tools “that weren’t available to communications teams 30 years ago but now help us to spread our content and measure which audiences we reach and how.”

“We can now see how many eyeballs are reading our stories and watching our videos,” he explains. “The news cycle over the last 25 years has changed significantly. You once had to wait for the paper to hit your front door to get the news. Now stories are updated moment to moment. We have to have a communications shop that has that orientation.”

The division Fernandez will lead includes media relations and communications and marketing, and produces print publications such as Miami magazine, as well as electronic publications including the Veritas employee newsletter, and the special online reports on climate change and the Zika virus.

His plan to ramp up the division includes much more than pushing out Tweets and producing more content. “We need to interact with our audience,” says Fernandez, who wrote for the Harvard Crimson as an undergraduate. “From the national media who want access to our experts to alumni who want to share stories of their impact in the world, our communication strategies need to invite people in. And we need to interact with our internal audiences as well. We want to make sure that students are heard and that our incredible schools and colleges help surface stories of our research and teaching in action.”

While pursuing new communications strategies and creating more nimble content across multiple platforms are key ingredients to his plan, Fernandez says the basics—“the blocking and tackling of communications”—still hold true. “Building trust, getting the facts right, producing top-notch content. That will never change,” says Fernandez. “The University of Miami’s story is a story of academic excellence and rising reputation; community connection and rich diversity; spirit and sports; and, as President Frenk says, resilience and renewal. It is a privilege to be charged with telling that story, and together we will do that better than ever before.”

 

 

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Sergio Gonzalez Headed to Brown

UM News

Sergio Gonzalez

Sergio Gonzalez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 17, 2017)—Sergio Gonzalez, the senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs who led the University of Miami’s Momentum capital campaigns and the ‘U’ rebranding effort, has been named senior vice president for advancement at Brown University.

“After more than 15 years of superlative service to the University of Miami, Sergio will certainly be missed, but I am sure you will join me in congratulating him as he embarks on this next chapter of his outstanding career,” President Julio Frenk said in announcing Gonzalez’s new position, effective August 1.

“Over the years, Sergio has led all development, communications, community relations, and alumni relations activities at the University. His efforts in these areas contributed significantly to our progress as a top-tier institution.”

In addition to the Momentum capital campaigns, which raised more than $3 billion during former UM President Donna E. Shalala’s tenure, Gonzalez was responsible for implementing the “U” as UM’s university-wide visual brand, now considered a national model for university rebranding. He also created the University’s first comprehensive parents program, a widely recognized donor stewardship effort, and a highly successful admissions legacy program.

In a message to the advancement team, Gonzalez said his decision was bittersweet as he had the great privilege of leading University Advancement under two gifted presidents who provided compelling and far-reaching visions for the institution. “It is,” he wrote, “ a wonderful and exhilarating time to be at the U. However, often exciting and different opportunities come your way that you never expected. These require consideration and sometimes result in difficult—and life-changing—professional and personal decisions.”

At Brown, an Ivy league college founded in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1764, Gonzalez will oversee advancement areas across the University, including the Office of Development, Office of Alumni Relations, Corporate and Foundation Relations, the Office for International Advancement, the Brown Sports Foundation, the Brown Annual Fund and others. He will report directly to Brown President Christina Paxson and serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet.

Before joining UM, Gonzalez served as chief of staff for the Miami-Dade County executive mayor and as a senior executive in Miami-Dade County government. He also served as the executive director of the South Florida 1999 Super Bowl Host Committee and the first executive director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

A self-described son of Miami, Gonzalez also has been deeply involved in the community, having filled a number of senior roles in key local private and public organizations, including the Dade County Homeless Trust, South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, and Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office.

He also served in key community institutions, including the Orange Bowl Committee, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the Arsht Performing Arts Center Trust, and nationally as a member of the boards of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the National Council of La Raza.

Frenk said a comprehensive search for Gonzalez’s replacement will begin immediately, and will rely on input from faculty, staff, trustees, and other members of the UM community.

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Josh Brandfon Elected to NACA Board

UM News

Josh-Brandfon

Josh Brandfon

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 11, 2017)—Joshua R. Brandfon, director of Student Activities, Student Organizations, and Student Center Complex programs at the University of Miami, has been elected to the board of directors of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) by the organization’s members. Earlier this year, the national organization dedicated to promoting student learning through engagement in campus life, awarded Brandfon one of its top achievement awards, the NACA Legacy Award.

At UM, Brandfon has helped create a climate that promotes and encourages student involvement and engagement. He also helps oversee the implementation of major university events, including distinguished guest lectures and dignitary visits, and serves as the primary administrator responsible for the management of more than 750 student organization accounts.

Brandfon, who began his relationship with NACA as a member of the Northeast Region Showcase Selection Committee, was a 2006 recipient of a NACA Educational Foundation McCullough Graduate Student Scholarship. Since then, he’s won many NACA awards for his leadership and service: the Outstanding Service Award in 2007, the NACA South C. Shaw Smith Founders Award in 2010, the Outstanding Service Citation in 2012, and this year’s NACA Legacy Award.

Over the years, he has chaired both the South Regional Conference Program Committee and the National Convention Program Committee. More recently, he served on the NACA Research and Scholarship Group, the Strategic Plan Task Force, and the inaugural cohort for NACA LEAP (Leadership and Effectiveness in Association Practices).

“With over ten years of experience with NACA’s various positions, Josh’s extensive knowledge of our association will serve us well as we begin the execution of a new strategic plan,” said Toby Cummings, NACA’s executive director. “Josh is a favorite presenter at our conferences and has been published in Campus Activities Programming magazine. He will be a wonderful addition to the leadership team.”

Brandfon received his B.A. in politics and economics from Brandeis University and his M.A. in educational leadership from the University of Connecticut. He anticipates completing his doctor of education from the University of Miami in 2018.

Established in 1960, NACA is the recognized leader in higher education for providing members with knowledge, ideas, and resources to promote student learning through engagement in campus life. NACA offers a variety of events, educational institutes, publications and networking opportunities for colleges and universities across the country. The association’s programs focus on program planning, risk management, multicultural education, concert management, student and professional leadership development, student government and more. For more information visit www.naca.org.

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